CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — West Texas A&M University announced that 11 WT-educated nurses, including two current WT faculty members, were honored among the Panhandle Great 25 Nurses for 2023 and will be celebrated at an event at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 2 at Embassy Suites Amarillo, located at 550 S. Buchanan St.

Nurses are chosen for the list by a collaborative committee between Texas Nurses Association District 2 and the Panhandle Organization of Nurse Executives, according to officials, taking leadership qualities, service to the community, compassionate caregiving and significant contributions into consideration.

The current WT faculty members that made the list were Dr. Collette Loftin, interim head of WT’s Department of Nursing and the Kritser Professor of Nursing, and Teresa Smoot, instructor for nursing, officials added.

“While every single one of our faculty members deserves to be a recipient of the Panhandle Great 25, Dr. Loftin and Teresa Smoot exemplify the concept of great nurses with their loyalty, dedication to WT’s mission and values as well as their students,” said Dr. Holly Jeffreys, dean of WT’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences. “We are thankful to have great nurses continue the tradition of educating nurses for the last 50 years.”

Officials noted that Loftin earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing in 1989 and her master’s in nursing education at WT. She then joined the nursing faculty in January 2007 and went on to teach classes in foundations and medication administration.

“I am honored and delighted to have been selected as one of the Panhandle Great 25 Nurses,” Loftin said. “Nursing is a collaborative profession, and without the support of many brilliant nurses who have been on my team throughout the years, I know I would not have been considered for this honor. Nursing has been a fulfilling journey and has made me who I am.”

Smoot, as noted by officials, earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing in 1989 at WT, a master of science in nursing education from South University in 2008 and a post-master’s certificate as a family nurse practitioner from Bradley University in 2017. She went on to teach courses for the graduate family nurse practitioner program at WT.

“It is an honor to be able to represent the profession of nursing and to be included in the Panhandle Great 25,” Smoot said. “I am thankful for the numerous opportunities, experiences and mentors throughout my 38 years of nursing, which have helped me achieve this award.”

Officials released the following nine other WT-educated nurses that made the list:

  • Kati Alley, who earned her MSN in 2013 and works at Hereford Regional Medical Center;
  • Sonja Clark, who earned her BSN in 1995 and her MSN in nursing in 2000 and is now Amarillo site leader at Bell’s Amarillo Assembly and Delivery Center;
  • Sahala Gaillard, who earned her BSN in 2000 and works for Gruver Independent School District;
  • Denise Gouldy, who earned her MSN in 2008 and works at Northwest Texas Healthcare System;
  • Angela Looten, who earned her BSN in 1978 and works at BSA Health System;
  • Colleen Robison, who earned her BSN in 1981 and works at Plains Memorial Hospital in Dimmitt;
  • Kendra Smith, who earned her BSN in 2009 and works at BSA Health System;
  • Gary Tabor, who earned his BSN in 2007 and works at BSA Health System; and
  • Kristen Yoder, who earned her BSN in 2009 and works at Randall High School.

In addition, Panhandle Great 25 Nurses will give $2,000 scholarships to three WT students:

  • Emily Faith Lance, an Amarillo native pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in nursing;
  • Citlali Botello, a senior nursing major from Dumas; and
  • Haley Jones, a graduate student from Perryton.

WT’s Department of Nursing was established in 1972 and currently provides around 70% of nurses that are employed around the Texas Panhandle, according to officials, as WT nursing graduates have averaged around a 97% score on the National Council Licensure Examination. The exam is required by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to “test the competency of nursing school graduates in the United States and Canada,” a WT release read.

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